Image courtesy of Watts Radiant.

Design One, Carpet One of Little Rock, Ark., recently leveraged a $2,600 electric floor heating project using the Warmly Yours ultra-thin floor heating system into a $28,000 whole-house floor covering sale.
Today's electric floor-heating systems have grown quickly in popularity with both major retailers and consumers. In 1999, there was less than 1 million square feet of electric floor heating sold. By the end of 2004, sales of electric floor heating are expected to approach 7 million square feet. The market should reach the 30-million-square-feet mark by 2010 if the United States follows the same adoption rate as Europe, where heated floors have already gained a large market share.

Flooring retailers selling electric floor heating are realizing extra profits through floor-heating system sales and installation charges. Most importantly, they benefit by differentiating their store from home centers and other competitors.

The most popular applications

Most customers buy electric floor heating for one of two reasons: first, to bring additional luxury and self-pampering into a bathroom or kitchen; and second, to add comfort and warmth to their living spaces by using the electric floor heat to add heat to new additions, sunrooms or cold basements.

Prime candidates for floor heating are homeowners who purchase new bathroom tiles. Bathroom flooring is the No. 1 application for heated floors and experts predict that, in 10 years, floor warming in bathrooms will be a standard feature just like air conditioning in cars.

Don't forget to talk to your customers and build a scenario around their morning routine. They stumble into their cold bathroom and then their feet hit that cold tile floor. Now help them imagine that first step onto a warm floor that gently radiates heat evenly into the room for body-enveloping warmth.

By focusing on these luxury and pampering aspects of electric floor heating, you will appeal to the most important features that consumers are after in bathrooms. Think warmth, soothing and spa-like comfort - these are the real selling points for bathroom systems.

Kitchens are also popular areas for electric floor heat, and you can certainly apply the same sales logic here. By adding warmth to the heart of the home, where family and friends congregate, the customers will be able to share the luxury with those that mean the most to them.

While luxury and pampering are the first selling points for electric floor heating, these systems can also solve zone-heating problems. Electric floor heating systems can heat sunrooms, basements or new additions that never seem to have enough heat. And don't just limit your floor-heating sales to tile or stone floors. The applications are expanding for use under carpet and floating-wood applications as well. This allows for easy installation under carpeted basements or family rooms.

Identify the right candidates for electric floor heating

While all people are able to enjoy electric floor heating, women are first to recognize the luxury that electric floor heat can bring to their bathrooms. Make sure to incorporate this strategy for your marketing and sales techniques when approaching customers in your store.

Older people will especially be open to the idea of electric floor heat. As people get older, their circulation can be affected, which raises the importance of even heat. Electric floor heating maintains very even room temperatures and provides warmth for cold feet when anyone with poor circulation is walking on the floor.

Merchandizing support - including table-top displays, window signage and consumer literature - is available from manufacturers. The heated displays allow customers to get a feel for how comfortable and soothing warm tiles can be. By grabbing their attention, you will get them interested in floor heating and also increase your chance to get the whole flooring purchase when they choose your store for electrically heated floors.

A successful sale is also a successful installation

Successful repeat and referral sales of electric floor heating will depend on customer satisfaction after the installation. Look for a manufacturer who can provide training materials for your installers and salespeople. The manufacturer should also provide a design layout for each job that shows the installers the best way to lay out the electric floor heating system for maximum warmth and minimum effort.

Make sure that you get everything you need to test electric floor heating efficiently. Installation tools - including a heating element tester and a first aid kit - should be offered from the manufacturer to ensure trouble-free installations. Technical support should be available 24/7 in the event your installer runs into a problem while installing after hours or on the weekend. In most cases, your manufacturer's technical team will be able to help your installers fix any installation problems immediately.

Radiant Floor Heating Systems Available in Many Options

Radiant heating systems are available for many different flooring types. Whether hydronic or electric in nature, these cables, mats and elements are designed to do one thing: keep the consumer comfortable and warm even in the coldest of conditions.

Electro Plastics' STEP Warmfloor is a strong, thin, flexible, low-voltage electroplastic element. The patented, self-regulating element cannot overheat, according to the company. STEP Warmfloor is designed to be easy to install, cut at the job site and used for floor warming under any floor covering.

Flextherm has launched three new cables for the electric floor-heating systems industry. Green Cable is designed to produce no electromagnetic field and is compatible with most floor coverings. It is offered in Surface and Concrete versions. ECONO Yellow cable is specially designed for commercial use and large construction projects, and was developed for use with ceramic and natural stone flooring.

The FlorHeat Co. offers the EasyFloor Hydronic Radiant Floor Heating System. EasyFloor features a sandwich design with modular plastic grids made of 100 percent recycled material. These grids are designed to quickly snap together to form the tubing runs to fit any room configuration. EasyFloor incorporates reflective foil, aluminum heat plates and PEX-AL-PEX tubing.

Infloor Radiant Heating has designed an easily installed electric cable system in a 110/220-volt cable or mat configuration. The 110-volt system is meant for the do-it-yourselfer and is for use under tile only.

MP Global Products introduces QuietWarmth, a radiant-heat system ideally suited for floating floors. Simply install QuietWarmth panels in place of typical floating floor underlayments. QuietWarmth is ETL listed as safe for flooring materials like laminate and wood, as well as ceramic tile.

Nuheat manufactures energy-efficient radiant-heating mats utilizing a patented technology. These mats can be installed directly under hard flooring surfaces. With more than 60 different standard sizes, the mats are designed to fit the majority of rooms, with custom mats available for rooms with curves or angles.

SunTouch radiant mats are designed to warm rooms from under any floor covering. The mats can be embedded in thinset mortar under tile floors or covered with self-leveling mortar and used under carpet, laminate or wood. SunTouch mats can also be suspended between floor joists. The product emits zero EMFs.

SmartRooms Flooring Warming System by Therma-Ray can cover from 12 to 275 square feet without having to combine floor cables. The heat provided by the differently sized mats ranges from 140 to 2,200 watts. SmartRooms systems can be used in renovation or new construction projects under any solid surface such as ceramic, stone, engineered wood, and laminate flooring.

Uponor Wirsbo Radiant Floors feature flexible PEX tubing and are designed to keep all types of flooring comfortably warm - including tile, wood, carpet, and even concrete. Warm water circulates under the floor and radiates heat upward for an even, comfortable temperature. Wirsbo tubing comes with a 25-year warranty against pits, leaks and corrosion.

Warmly Yours introduces Environ II, a micro-thin heating system designed for use under carpeting and laminate wood floors. Manufactured in multiple-sized heating mats consisting of looped heated coils sandwiched between four layers of foil, the Environ II system measures 1/16" high. Leads from each mat are connected to a 120-volt electrical circuit and seven-day programmable thermostat.